The Phantom Tollbooth
Read by Rainn Wilson
Norman Juster’s surreal tale of a young boy adventuring in a brilliantly fantastical world is a classic for a reason. Humorous, profound, and brimming with invention and adventure, it’s one of those titles that’s always worth a reread, or—when someone like Rainn Wilson is narrating the audiobook—a listen.
Sadness, Love, Openness
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Read by Richard Gere
This compelling and accessible book instructs readers to incorporate their daily experiences into their own spiritual path to truly awaken to the beauty of the world around them. Chokyi Nyima Ripoche is a beloved and widely respected Buddhist teacher whose forthright honesty and wry wit is both entertaining and deeply profound.
Read by Natascha McElhone
Figuring is an exploration of love, truth, and the cascading interconnectivity of life. Drawing parallels and connections between the lives of multiple historical figures across four centuries, Figuring is an ambitious and thought-provoking examination of the intersecting tapestry of virtually all facets of the human experience.
Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Read by Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, and Pablo Schreiber
There’s something special about a full cast audiobook—it just adds an extra layer of immersion. The audiobook version of Daisy Jones & the Six is no exception. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the 1970s rock scene in LA, Read’s novel is a combination of coming-of-age tale and rock-n-roll fever dream that reads like the best tell-all celebrity memoirs.
Era of Ignition
Read by Amber Tamblyn, Airea D. Matthews, and Meredith Talusan
Spurred by a tumultuous and destabilizing period in her own life, actor and activist Amber Tamblyn experienced an epiphany. She would come to call this realization her Era of Ignition, or a period of self-reflection and a call to action. In this fascinating memoir, Tamblyn explores a number of salient issues—from feminism and gender inequality to trauma and consent—through the lens of her own personal struggles.
Too Much Is Not Enough
Read by Andrew Rannells
This frank and hilarious coming-of-age memoir charts Andrew Rannells’ path from a midwestern kid to a sexually confused teenager to a Broadway star. While his natural charisma is evident on the page, it’s even more so in his reading for the audiobook. There’s nothing quite like listening to Rannells describe not only the difficulties and complexities of his life story but also the smaller, oft-hilarious moments and triumphs.
Point of View
Read by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Karissa Vacker
With her new memoir, former The View and Fox & Friends co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck discusses the ways her deep faith has helped her navigate not only being her own celebrity but the everyday challenges of being a motherhood and marriage. Whether its her early days in the public eye on Survivor, her sometimes controversial time on The View, or her new role as CBO (Chief Breakfast Officer), she believes it was her spirituality and faith in God that led her through.
Small Great Things
Read by Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell, and Ari Fliakos
Jodi Picoult’s 2016 bestseller is a particularly timely examination of prejudice and racism in America today. The novel centers around a Black labor and delivery nurse named Ruth, who is forced to confront white supremacy and the inequities of our justice system after saving the life of a newborn. It is classic Picoult—emotionally resonant, challenging, and thought-provoking.
The Princess Diarist
Read by Carrie Fisher and Billie Lourd
With so much of her pop culture cache hinging on her acting career, it can be easy to forget that Carrie Fisher is a brilliant writer. Her last book, The Princess Diarist, is culled from journals that Fisher discovered from her time on set filming Star Wars. The result is surprisingly intimate and unsurprisingly hilarious; Carrie looks back at her youthful self through the lens of her wiser, older self.
Diary of a Mad Diva
Read by Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers was one of a kind. She was a no-holds-barred, delightfully vicious diva with a razor-sharp wit. Fortunately for all of us, her daughter Melissa had the foresight to gift her mother with a diary. The result was Diary of a Mad Diva—a blistering critique of pop culture, current events, and basically every celebrity you can think of, sprinkled with a surprising dose of introspection. Hearing Joan Rivers herself deliver the barbs and the insights? That’s just icing on the cake.
If You Ask Me
Read by Betty White
Is there anyone who dislikes Betty White? If you happen to know someone who does, you should probably just avoid them—you don’t need that sort of negativity in your life. In her laugh-out-loud memoir, White reminds us all of what makes her a national treasure. Featuring stories from seven decades in show business as well as her musings on, well, virtually everything, If You Ask Me is a must-listen.
Read by Meryl Streep
What could possibly improve on Nora Ephron’s brilliantly hilarious, semi-autobiographical novel about a perfect marriage torn apart? Some narration by Meryl Streep. Given that Streep played the role of protagonist Rachel in the 1986 adaptation, it certainly seems like a good fit. Add in Ephron’s famously ferocious wit and you’ve got the makings of an unstoppable audiobook.
Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures
Read by Molly Ringwald
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures reads like a classic from Hollywood’s golden age, which is fitting given that the rags-to-riches, coming-of-age tale is set against the glitzy backdrop of Los Angeles in the 1930s and ’40s. Elsa Emerson is a small-town teenager who flees to Hollywood with dreams of making it big—which is precisely what she does. Of course, fame comes with a price, and remaining true to herself may be the biggest challenge of all.
Why Not Me?
Read by Mindy Kaling, Greg Daniels, and B. J. Novak
This collection of essays proved to be the perfect follow-up to Mindy Kaling’s bestselling memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. Chronicling her ongoing journey toward contentment and excitement, Kaling once again takes a relatable dive into the insecurities and anxieties that have defined so much of her comedy and professional life.
We all know that a narrator’s performance can make or break an audiobook experience. A good reader pulls us further into the story, immersing us in the nuance, emotion, and humor that make a great book sing. It’s why we’re usually excited when our favorite celebrities step into the sound booth for an audiobook recording. Here are a few top-notch audiobooks read by actors that we can’t stop listening to.
Featured Image: @shanti/Twenty20